Impaired trial of youth snowmobiler will continue

Gary Kean
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CORNER BROOK  The trial of a youth charged with operating a snowmobile while under the influence of alcohol will resume in provincial court on April 25 after an application to have the matter tossed out of court on a technicality was rejected.

The young man was charged after the RCMP responded to a complaint of young people partying in the Lantern Bog area near Baie Verte on March 4, 2011.

After the Crown had presented its case against the youth at trial, the defence asked Judge Wayne Gorman for a directed verdict, arguing the Crown had not presented evidence that proved the elements of the charges against the boy.

At trial, Gorman heard that when police arrived at the scene, they found a number of young people in and around a snow hut made from snow and tree boughs. Inside, there were young people, a fire and alcohol.

The officer said he told all of the youth to leave the hut and began pouring out the alcohol left behind. When one of the youth, the one who was subsequently charged, was seen stumbling, the officer said he told that young person to go wait by his snowmobile.

A short time later, one of the officers testified, the youth was seen sitting in the operator’s seat of his snowmobile. The engine was on and the machine was slowly moving forward.

A girl sitting on the back of the snowmobile testified that it wasn’t the young man who had started the machine and it was also someone else who had made it move forward.

After the youth registered a fail on a breath screening device for alcohol content, he was taken to the police station for a further test administered by a breathalyzer technician. When the teenager was unable to provide a sample for that test, because he was “burping” and “dry heaving,” he was taken to a hospital to have blood samples taken.

The officer testified he had arrived at the location of the snow hut at around 9:40 p.m. and the two blood samples were taken at the hospital at 11:38 p.m. and 11:39 p.m.

The analysis of the blood samples indicated the youth had 142 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitre of blood in his system, well above the impaired threshold of 80 milligrams.

Defence lawyer Robby Ash argued that the breathalyzer technician’s qualification certificate, which was tendered as an exhibit in court, had the word “Canada” inserted in handwriting. He said the accuracy of the technician’s findings could be called into question if the certificate was not valid.

He also questioned whether the evidence had shown the blood samples had been taken within two hours of the police arrival at the scene.

Crown attorney Ed Ring said the handwritten insertion of “Canada” was a typographical error and should not affect the validity of the certification.

Gorman ruled the certificate was valid and the evidence sufficiently showed the blood samples were taken no later than two hours after.

The trial will resume April 25.

Twitter: WS_GaryKean

Organizations: RCMP

Geographic location: Baie Verte, Canada

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